IVAPM Pain Management Forum: Discussions on Pain and Analgesia


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The IVAPM’s recent Pain Management Forum drew interest from stakeholders across the globe.

When members of the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management batted around the idea of a meeting to discuss pain-related topics and trends, they weren’t sure what the response would be like from the veterinary medicine community. However, if this year’s IVAPM Forum is any indication, pain management practice is vital for today’s practitioners.

Tamara Grubb, DVM, Ph.D., DACVAA, and president-elect of the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management, said there were over 200 in-person attendees and roughly 80 virtual attendees, which included veterinarians, veterinary nurses/technicians, and students from approximately 10 different countries. The second annual Forum covered a wide variety of topics, including:

  • Pain Pathophysiology
  • What’s New: Pharmacologic Pain Management
  • Veterinary Orthotic & Prosthetic Care
  • Acute Pain Cases: An Anesthesiologist’s Perspective
  • Using Laser Therapy for the Rehab Patient
  • Communicating Pain to Clients
  • Building a Pain Management Practice


“Judging from the attendee’s comments, there was a lot of information that they could immediately implement in practice – which was our main goal,” said Dr. Grubb. “We all want to stay on the cutting edge of pain management. Lectures from our partners, the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians and Anesthesia Nerds, were just as popular as the IVAPM lectures. We really enjoy partnering with both of those groups and think the variety of lectures added a lot to the success of the Pain Forum.”


Chat board at IVAPM Pain Management Forum


Pain management knowledge and practices within veterinary medicine have come a long way, Dr. Grubb said. First came the general acceptance among providers that animals do feel pain. In the past, some practitioners and pet owners may not have believed this, mainly because animals are so good at hiding it compared to people.

“We had to learn what pain looks like in an animal since they can’t verbally express pain as humans do,” Dr. Grubb said. “We are making progress in new pain assessment tools – which is incredibly important to success in identifying pain.”

Next, Dr. Grubb said veterinarians know that the impact of pain is the same in animals as it is in people. “Just imagine yourself in pain and know that your patient or pet is experiencing the same sensation and potentially distress.”

Veterinary medicine is finally seeing the entry of new drug classes on the market, like the anti-nerve growth factor monoclonal antibodies. There’s also been an expansion of drug therapy into non-pharmacologic treatments like acupuncture and physical therapy. “It is rewarding to see to see new options,” Dr. Grubb said.

And the entry of pain practitioners into the veterinary space, where some veterinarians are focusing solely on pain management, has created another specialty group that GPs can refer patients to, just like the option to refer to other specialty areas for surgery and internal medicine.

Of course, more can be done by all industry stakeholders. More drugs. More assessment tools. More education of both veterinary professionals and pet owners. “We are still behind the level of pain knowledge and a number of pain treatments that are available in human medicine,” Dr. Grubbs said.

But as the recent Pain Forum showed, the interest to catch up is there. “That is what will drive the progress in better pain identification and treatment,” she said. “I’m excited about the groups that want to participate in that education. Not only IVAPM and our meeting partners but also industry partners and private partners like Canine Arthritis Management (CAM) and the folks at Zero Pain Philosophy, both in the UK and Canine Arthritis Resources & Education (CARE) in the U.S. There are so many more, and we appreciate them all. Progress is all about education – and I mean educating pet owners as much as educating veterinary professionals.”